Review Summary: Ironically, the 'Falling Apart' bit of the album title is the best summation of Soft Cell's 2nd LP. Great in places, but overall far less consistent than their debut, providing an expirence tailored to fans, alone.
Following up on a strong debut album is never an easy task. 1981's 'Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret' was a surprise hit. The mega single, 'Tainted Love' topped charts the world over, and those who checked out the full album on the strength of aforementioned song found a plethora of other worthy tracks, that proved just as compelling, with catchy, sleazy synth from Dave Ball and rather witty, sinful lyrics from a theatrical Marc Almond. Fast-forward two years and Soft Cell released 'The Art of Falling Apart', an album title that became unintentionally ironic as the duo decided to split just a year later.
After listening to 'Falling Apart' it's not particularly difficult to understand why the band would soon call it a day. The formula that produced brilliant tracks like 'Sex Dwarf' a couple of years ago was already starting to strain, with most entities lacking the focus of earlier efforts. And that's the main issue that spoils the album a tad - most tracks just last for too long, the opposite of the short but tightly coiled sleaze-fests that made 'Erotic Cabaret' a blast of smutty fun.
Tracks like 'Hendrix Medley' (a bizarre, synth Jimmy Hendrix medley) are a real drag at over 10 minutes long (one of 3 tracks the lasts around 10 minutes), and the tongue-in-cheek perversity that was entertaining on tunes like 'Seedy Films', loses some of its charm on efforts such as 'Baby Doll', which does contain rather brilliant, menacing plunges of synth, but becomes less interesting after six and a half minutes.
Despite its faults, there is still plenty of interest (primarily to those who have only ventured as far the bands debut, but love what they've heard) on 'Falling Apart', such as the lengthy, but well-executed take on an obscure, cult horror movie, 'Martin', or the catchy, fake funk of 'Numbers'. The vaguely 'Depeche Mode' sounding 'Heat', featuring dark piano lines and a wall of buzzing noise behind Almonds cynical lyrics in the last minute and a half of the track is as equally worthwhile.
The album is genuinely good, but doesn't reach the same levels of greatness that 'Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret' did. That album had a focal point in it's tales of the dark side of club life, but 'Falling Apart' doesn't contain the same knowing consistency. It does have more than a enough stimulating moments to make it worthwhile for those curious, but, generally, let itself get carried away with the themes and sounds it displays, with overly long tracks and erroneous, arty experiments like 'Hendrix Medley' that quite simply, don't work as well as anything found on Soft Cell's debut.